Francona transferred back to Boston

Francona transferred back to Boston

NEW YORK -- Red Sox manager Terry Francona was taken to a hospital Wednesday morning for precautionary tests after experiencing stiffness in his chest.

The 45-year-old Francona, who didn't manage Wednesday's game against the Yankees, was at Yankee Stadium doing his normal pregame routine, including fulfilling media obligations, when he felt discomfort. He was taken by ambulance to New York Weill-Cornell Medical Center in Manhattan.

"He experienced some chest stiffness earlier this morning," Boston general manager Theo Epstein said. "The best course of action was to take him to the hospital for precautionary tests."

Francona walked on to the ambulance.

"He had all his faculties about him, he was just going for tests," Epstein said.

Francona was transferred Wednesday night via Medi-Vac from New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center to a Boston-area hospital, where he will be further evaluated under the supervision of Red Sox Medical Director Dr. Thomas Gill.

According to Red Sox spokesman Glenn Geffner, Francona was resting comfortably and awaiting test results before heading back to Boston. And in what was perhaps a good sign, Francona was perturbed that he couldn't get the game on television. However, the manager did manage to find a radio, and was said to be enthused by the way the Sox rallied back for a 7-3 win against Mariano Rivera and the Yankees.

"There's not much new to report," Geffner said. "I just spoke to Theo, who has been with [Francona] at the hospital all afternoon. Tito is still resting comfortably, awaiting test results and his blood pressure and everything has returned to normal since the ninth inning, Theo said. He was able to listen to most of the game on the radio."

The Red Sox said they would possibly have results on the test by Wednesday evening.

Before going to the hospital, Epstein spoke to the manager by phone.

"That's how [Francona] described it, stiffness in his chest," Epstein said. "We'll get more information for you as it's appropriate and available."

Bench coach Brad Mills -- one of Francona's closest friends -- managed the Red Sox to a thrilling win.

Mills had no suspicions that anything was wrong with Francona, especially after having dinner with him in New York on Tuesday night.

"I was with him last night and he was fine," Mills said. "We went to dinner with a couple of the other coaches and everything was fine."

But on the team's early bus to the park on Wednesday morning, Mills noticed that Francona was fatigued.

"He slept on the bus coming from the hotel," Mills said. "When we got in, I went in to get the lineup from him. I kind of joked, I said, 'You took a little nap.' He looked up and said, 'Millsy, I'm not feeling real well.' We had him go talk to [trainer Jim Rowe], [and] he looked at him. Right now, it's all precautionary, but he's still upbeat and still OK."

In the fall of 2002, Francona developed chest pains when he was in Seattle for a job interview with the Mariners. Francona later said he thought he was having a heart attack.

When he returned to his home in Philadelphia, a blood clot -- thought to have resulted following a seemingly routine surgery on his left knee -- was found in his lungs. He suffered a pulmonary embolism on each side of his lungs and spent four days in the hospital, before being given blood thinners to prevent future clotting.

"They told me I was lucky," Francona told Jackie MacMullan of The Boston Globe in February 2004.

From that ordeal, which also resulted in a staph infection and subsequent knee surgeries, Francona suffered permanent damage to his circulation, which is one of the reasons he almost always wears a fleece top in the dugout, instead of the standard uniform shirt.

"I think with the circulatory problems he had in the past, I think they want to make sure that things are checked out a little bit more," said Mills. "I think they might be a little more cautious with him because of those circulatory problems he's had in the past."

Epstein said it isn't known yet if Francona will manage the team this weekend in Toronto. The Sox are off on Thursday, and Francona might spend the day in Boston undergoing additional tests.

The clubhouse was closed to the media for roughly five minutes Wednesday so Epstein could reveal the news to the players.

"It was scary," said Red Sox first baseman Kevin Millar. "You're talking about real life stuff. You're not talking about wins and losses, who pitched well and who didn't hit well."

Suddenly, the two-game losing streak the Red Sox began the season with seemed inconsequential.

"I think everybody feels for him and we're all concerned," said Mills. "Our biggest concern is to make sure he's going to be OK. I think we're confident that he will be because he did get it taken care of so soon."

This isn't the only time in recent memory the Sox have had an acting manager at the last minute.

On May 19, 2002, Grady Little flew home following the death of his mother and bench coach Mike Stanley managed the team for two days. The Sox won both of those games.

When the Yankees learned of what was going on with Francona, they offered the use of their medical staff, but the Red Sox chose to send the manager to the hospital.

Mills and the players said Francona was in their thoughts during the game.

"It was tough, because it happened so early this morning, on the bus ride in," said Mills. "You're playing for a game like we're going to have [Wednesday], a big one, and then you take another turn and start really being concerned about Terry and what's going on with him and his health."

Mills spoke with Francona before the game and was hoping to touch base with him again before the Sox boarded a flight to Toronto for a weekend series with the Blue Jays.

"I did talk to him before the ballgame. He said, 'Don't worry about me.' I said, 'No, I'm going to worry about you.' I told him we were all concerned about him a little bit," Mills said. "And that was about the extent of it."

Ian Browne is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.